Ancient Civilizations – Inquiry Based Lesson Plans

Ancient Civ Lesson Plans

There are several excellent ancient history inquiry units available for download on the internet. More are being added all the time!  Check out these compelling questions and the lessons and resources that accompany them.  Feel free to comment if you know of a resource that isn’t listed.

Was the Development of Agriculture Good for Humans?

This inquiry unit from is designed for 6th grade students but could be adapted for older or younger kids.   It explores three supporting questions that prompt students to explore new technologies, Mesopotamia, and the consequence of agriculture.  It also includes primary and secondary sources including some graphs and images of artifacts.

Did Slaves Build the Great Pyramid at Giza?

This lesson from the Stanford History Education Group includes 5 documents students will explore to determine how the Great Pyramid was built.  It also includes a Powerpoint for classroom use.

What Can We Learn About Babylonia from Hammurabi’s Code?

This lesson from the Stanford History Education Group gives students the opportunity to sharpen their skills in the area of evidence evaluation by determining the strengths and weaknesses of different historical documents.  Included are the lesson plans, resources and Powerpoint for classroom use.

Are the Olympics about More than Sports?

The Olympics were so much more than just “fun and games.”  This lesson from walks students through three supporting questions that examine the history and mythology of the Olympics, the goals of modern Olympics and the role of the arts in both.

How Democratic was the Roman Republic?

A great question to ask about the United States today as well as Ancient Rome!  This Stanford History Group lesson includes several primary sources, guiding questions and student handouts.   This is a great lesson for reinforcing the definition of the word “Republic” and evaluating what it means to truly be one.

Athenian Democracy SAC (Structured Academic Controversy)

Most students love to argue.  Why fight it? This Stanford History Education Group lesson will examine whether or not Athens was truly democratic and includes all the needed materials!

Did the Chinese and Romans Know Each Other?

This lesson from is geared toward 6th-7th grade students but could be adapted for older or younger students.  Students will look at the geography of the region as well as the perceptions the Chinese and the Romans had about each other.  It might seem like a simple “yes” or “no” answer, but I think examination of the resources will lead you to find that it’s much more complicated!

Were the “Dark Ages” Really Dark?

This lesson from Stanford History Education Group is best introduced after students have studied the Roman Empire and may require multiple class periods.  The lesson includes a timeline, necessary primary and secondary sources, guiding questions and a claims organizer.

How did people in the 14th century understand the Black Death?

A great lesson in historical perspective brought to us by the fine folks at Stanford History Education Group.  This lesson includes everything you need to examine the misconceptions about the Plague during the 14th century.

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